Golgatha

It hurt worse than expected,
feeling my soul pulling free,
like meat off a bone, like arriving
when she told me Joseph died—
I knew, but now I Know.

Drunk with pain, down to go deeper,
to get under all of it, down under
the staggering load.

It was hard to be there for it, hard
to see her seeing all of this, hard
to explain, even if I could have,

that it was all merely a stage,
the necessary pain, evil, darkness,
delusion.

And then it began.

Prophecy

You’ll be coming off three days on the night shift
when you realize there was no sugar
in the bottom of the cup, no bottom
of the cup for that matter. Sometime
after your last 12-step meeting
you’ll know you’ll always walk wounded,
limp home. Those wounds in your hands
won’t heal; they’ll be a sign to all,
especially you. You’ll walk around clean,
feeling the hole in your own side,
wondering if this was the glorious
resurrection promised.

published around 2005 in the now defunct web journal, The New Pantagruel

Sestina: Blues Clues

Sestina: Blue’s Clues

What the past three years have been I don’t remember,
only that the now is taken up with Steve and a dog, Blue,
a sort of surrogate mother for our children, who look for clues
while Mommy, like me, is busy doing something. Think
though we might, we won’t recall that something later.
But Steve is kind, assuring them they can be anything
that they want to be.Read More »

Motel Bel-Air

Dad pulls up in the Rambler, and
we see the sign first: POOL – COLOR TV.
Darkness fills the edges of the parking lot.
My brother and I plan to live up
to the promise of that sign. No trunks,
but some shorts Mom had packed for the next day.
She wearily agrees. Later, from the zero gravity
of turquoise-lit night water, I see Dad’s
cigarette lit like an orange rocket as he blows
white smoke skyward, sitting slumped in a plastic chair.Read More »

What We Gain in Translation

S’io credesse che mia risposta fosse
fiamma staria senza piu scosse.
Ma perciocche giammai di questo fondo
Non torno vivo alcun, s’i’odo il vero,
Senza tema d’infamia ti rispondo.

Epigram from “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T. S. Eliot,
originally from Dante’s Inferno, canto xxvii

i)
forgiveness for the language:
scratches for the trouble of trying
to arrive at the same place by a different way
when the first way was also choked with thorns.Read More »

Insufficient Tranquility

When will the surface still?
When will the fire die,
When will we scrape the wound clean,
When will things be the same again?

The last one is done for you. Ask
the mothers and fathers, ask
the widows, sit
on the chintz sofa, touch
the son under glass, see
the faded picture look
back from years,
wonder if,
wonder when,
wonder why.

See it written, not large,
but small over and over and over,
One Size Fits All.

When we complete
a dark circle, kill
to stop the killing
(assume we succeed),
those who wave giddy
little plastic flags of
welcome home
will be those who
have someone
to come home to.

written in 2001, days after 9/11, and not edited since.